cat·​a·​comb | \ ˈka-tə-ˌkōm How to pronounce catacomb (audio) \

Definition of catacomb

1 : a subterranean cemetery of galleries with recesses for tombs usually used in plural
2 : something resembling a catacomb: such as
a : an underground passageway or group of passageways
b : a complex set of interrelated things the endless catacombs of formal education— Kingman Brewster †1988

Synonyms for catacomb


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About forty Christian catacombs have been found near the roads that once led into Rome. After the decline of the Roman empire these cemeteries were forgotten, not to be rediscovered until 1578. Catacomb has come to refer to different kinds of underground chambers and passageways. The catacombs of Paris are abandoned stone quarries that were not used for burials until 1787. The catacombs built by a monastery in Palermo, Sicily, for its deceased members later began accepting bodies from outside the monastery; today you may wander through looking at hundreds of mummified corpses propped against the catacomb walls, dressed in tattered clothes that were once fashionable.

Examples of catacomb in a Sentence

explored the catacombs looking for evidence about burial customs of that ancient society
Recent Examples on the Web That night, while Odesans gathered in cafés along the shore of the Black Sea, Mauser and another catacomb explorer, named Boris, led me beneath the streets of the city. Will Hunt, The New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2022 One section of the quarry was burrowed beneath a large catacomb that was dug by the early Christians to bury their dead. Nick Squires, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Jan. 2022 Popular locations like the catacomb-like Undercity and blood elf capital Silvermoon City didn’t have roofs. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 20 Sep. 2021 In this 1961 painting by Remedios Varo, a radiant orange woman moves through a blue catacomb lined with stone-cold, female figures with their eyes closed. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Trails of markets, a catacomb of never-ending alleyways, and a deep network of stunning street food vendors awaiting at every turn. Travel + Leisure, 14 July 2021 In the station, shadows pool in the basins of hundreds of concrete coffers lining the domed catacomb, as if each one holds something secret. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 25 Mar. 2021 In recent years, the outlines of the catacomb structure have been emerging from the soil. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, 28 Sep. 2020 Authorities at the monastery — renowned for its extensive system of catacombs dating from the 11th century — were initially slow to react to warnings that the virus was spreading., 17 Apr. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catacomb.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of catacomb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for catacomb

Middle English catacumb, Middle French catacombe, probably from Old Italian catacomba, from Late Latin catacumbae, plural

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The first known use of catacomb was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

20 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Catacomb.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on catacomb

Nglish: Translation of catacomb for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about catacomb


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